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Market Report: Pears + A Recipe for Rustic Canyon's Pear-Fennel Salad

It's finally September, which fact you can tell by the school bus fleets, the onset of Trojan football season, and the resurgence of pears at farmers markets. This morning at the Santa Monica farmers market, the Flora Bella Farm stand was heavy with crates of them: Asian pears, red Bartlett pears and yellow Bartlett pears, all in a row. Farmer James Birch, who has operated Flora Bella in Three Rivers, in the Sierra foothills, for 20 years now ("farming? try 50"), says that he started bringing his pears a week ago and will have them for at least a few more weeks. Unlike many farmers, Birch does not store his fruit. "We pick it and sell it; if we can't sell it, we dry it," says Birch, who thinks fruit loses its taste when it's put in storage. Birch, who sells to Mozza and Lucques, among many other local restaurants, says he'll have the difficult-to-find fresh garbanzos in another few weeks.

Evan Funke, chef at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, was shopping at Florabella this morning, buying both kinds of Bartletts for a salad of sliced pears, shaved fennel and sunchokes dressed with a yogurt-dill dressing, which will go onto the menu at the restaurant tonight. Funke's recipe is after the jump.

Flora Bella Farm's crates of pears
Flora Bella Farm's crates of pears
Photo credit: Amy Scattergood

Pear-sunchoke-fennel salad

Note: From Rustic Canyon chef Evan Funke. Sunchokes are available at many grocery stores and farmers markets, including Coleman Family Farm and (in another week or two) Weiser Family Farm.

Serves: 2

1 medium raw fennel bulb, trimmed

1 large pear (red or yellow Bartlett), peeled and cored

3 sunchokes, trimmed

1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or other full-fat plain yogurt)

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon shallots, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1. Using a vegetable peeler, mandoline or sharp knife, shave the fennel and sunchokes. Thinly slice the pears.

2. In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together until well-combined. Toss the shaved vegetables and sliced fruit together in the bowl with the dressing. Check for seasoning. Chill until very cold, then divide between two plates and serve immediately.


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